We already know that the vast majority of financial advisors are male. When we ran the numbers on a database of nearly 7,500 CFAs at Northwestern Mutual, we discovered that 87% of its team was male, based on gender information the Life Insurance company has hidden in its site code.

But are these 87% of men experienced? While various studies suggest that the average financial advisor is between the age of 51 and 55, and that 38% expect to retire within the next 10 years, it's unclear how much actual experience advisors have in the profession. Was your advisor a DJ in Miami last year? It's not likely, but anything is possible in this modern world of second careers.

Clearly, people want financial advisors who have years of experience and are financially successful themselves, so the above numbers aren't terribly surprising, if at the very least disconcerting for those looking for some diversity in those with whom they confide their future plans.

The data

Hidden in the data we tracked at Northwestern Mutual was a figure about how long the advisor had been in service at Northwestern Mutual. In a sign that the firm either hires young advisors or that its advisors leave the company quickly, the largest group has only been with NoMu for less than 4 years.

Length of Service data in Northwestern Mutual's Financial Advisor Directory

Length of service spread

Of the 7,500 financial advisors listed on Northwestern Mutual's directory, 1,700 have been with the firm 0-2 years, 960 have been there 2-4 years, and 625 have been there 4-6 years.

The histogram below shows the quickly cascading years of service, as reported by Northwestern's own directory.

However, the average years of service for a Northwestern Mutual is 13.4. That's because, as you see above, there's a very long tail of advisors who have been "in service" for more than 20 years. Three have been in service for an impressive 68-70 years.

Breaking it down

So what does all of this mean? One of two things. First, it means that firms like Northwestern Mutual are hiring a lot of freshman advisors. Second, it means that advisors, especially younger ones, are jumping ship. 

This is good for investors who want to work with young, hungry advisors, but not so good for those who prefer an experienced captain who can guide them through stormy waters. Given the average length of service at Northwestern Mutual, though, it certainly looks possible to be matched with either.

The age spread by location varies widely, however. In Vermont, Northwest Mutual's 4 advisors average a 22.75-year service length. In Wyoming, the average length of service is just 5 years.

The map reveals that each state has a mix of tenure, serving those who are looking for an aggressive freshman as much as those who are looking for a seasoned advisor.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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